Featured Stories

Other Pamplin Media Group sites


Bill passed to bring mascot issue back to local level

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Last year, the Oregon Board of Education voted to ban Native American mascots by 2017.Public schools with Native American mascots—such as the Scappoose Indians—have been under pressure to remove their logos from fields, courts, scoreboards and wherever else they appear since the Oregon Board of Education voted to ban the use of Native American mascots in the state’s schools last year.

But there might be new life for diehard students and alumni who want to keep such mascots.

On April 10, the Oregon Senate passed a bill to allow schools to keep their mascots as long as local tribes approve of them, in essence bringing the issue back to a local level.

The Oregon House of Representatives would still need to approve the bill, but Scappoose School District officials so far are indicating their approval with the direction the Legislature is taking, especially regarding how the changeover could trigger a huge expense just as school budgets are showing signs of a rebound.

“The Oregon Board of Education overreached themselves last year,” said Stephen Jupe, superintendent of Scappoose School District. “It would cost thousands, it’s obviously very expensive.”

Jupe said that, in his experience, many Native Americans take pride in the Native American-based mascots that represent schools. Of greater concern, he said, is how Native American history is taught within the schools.

“If the legislation goes through, I’ll have a lot of work to do,” Jupe said, explaining that the district would have to conduct research in order to find a local tribe or Native American organization to approve the mascot. “It’s great that local tribes will have a say whether, and if so, how [the mascot] should be used,” he said.

Karyn Miltich, owner of Scappoose Outfitters embroidery shop, has been anticipating the mascot change for the past 10 years.

“It doesn’t affect me,” she said. “The rule says that they cannot be called the Indians, that doesn’t mean that fans can’t come to a game with Indian wear.”

Miltich said a lot of the clothing she doesn’t sell, she donates to the school’s teams.

She said a lot of the school’s clothing she embroiders says “Scappoose,” not “Indians.”

Miltich said she started doing that 10 years ago because the mascot issue has been on the table for a very long time.

The education board initially only suggested that schools discontinue the use of Native American mascots in 2006, though it solidified its leanings in May by giving schools until 2017 to nix the use of Native American mascot names and imagery.

Many small communities resisted the change, stating that the mascots are a source of pride. “There is a sense in the town that the Indians is our mascot,” Jupe said.